Although Mormon grew up in a time of great wickedness, he chose to be faithful. Because of his faithfulness, he was told that he would be entrusted with the people’s sacred records later in his life. At age 15, he was “visited of the Lord” (Mormon 1:15). He desired to help the Nephites repent, but because of their willful rebellion he was forbidden by the Lord to preach to them. At this young age, he was appointed to lead the Nephite army. Because many of the Nephites had lost the Holy Ghost and other gifts of God, they were left to their own strength as they battled the Lamanites.
Suggestions for Teaching
Mormon learns that he will someday be entrusted with the Nephites’ sacred records
Write the following question on the board before class so students can think about it as they arrive: How do you feel when people call you a Mormon?
At the beginning of class, invite students to respond to the question on the board. After they have discussed the question, ask a student to read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“While I sometimes regret that people do not call this church by its proper name, I am happy that the nickname they use is one of great honor made so by a remarkable man and a book which gives an unmatched testimony concerning the Redeemer of the world.
“Anyone who comes to know the man Mormon, through the reading and pondering of his words, anyone who reads this precious trove of history which was assembled and preserved in large measure by him, will come to know that Mormon is not a word of disrepute, but that it represents the greatest good—that good which is of God” (“Mormon Should Mean ‘More Good,’” Ensign, Nov. 1990, 52–53).
To help students understand the context of Mormon 1–2, explain that 320 years after the Savior appeared to the Nephites, almost everyone in the land was living in wickedness. At this time Ammaron, a righteous man who had served as a record keeper, was “constrained by the Holy Ghost [to] hide up the records which were sacred” (see 4 Nephi 1:47–49). About this same time, Ammaron visited a 10-year-old boy named Mormon and instructed him concerning his future responsibility for the records.
Ask students to read Mormon 1:2 silently, looking for words and phrases Ammaron used to describe Mormon. Ask them to report what they find. Write the name Mormon on the board, and list their responses below it. You may need to explain that the word sober means calm, serious, and thoughtful.
What do you think we should be sober about? (Answers may include administering and partaking of the sacrament, scripture study, chastity, and speaking and testifying about the Savior.) Why should we be sober about these things?
Explain that a person can be sober and still have fun and laugh. However, a sober person understands when to be lighthearted and when to be more serious.
What do you think it means to be “quick to observe”?
As part of this discussion, invite a student to read the following explanation by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“When we are quick to observe, we promptly look or notice and obey. Both of these fundamental elements—looking and obeying—are essential to being quick to observe. And the prophet Mormon is an impressive example of this gift in action. …
“… The spiritual gift of being quick to observe is so vital for us in the world in which we do now and will yet live” (“Quick to Observe,” Ensign, Dec. 2006, 34).
How can the ability to quickly see and obey the Lord’s counsel help us?
Invite students to write in notebooks or scripture study journals about something they should take more seriously—something they should be more sober about. Also ask them to list directions from the Lord that they could obey more readily. Encourage them to seek to be more sober and quick to observe.
Invite a student to read Mormon 1:3–5 aloud, and ask the class to identify Ammaron’s instructions to Mormon.
What did Ammaron ask Mormon to do?
Why do you think Mormon needed to be sober and quick to observe in order to fulfill these responsibilities?
Because of the people’s willful rebellion, the Lord forbids Mormon to preach to them
Ask students if they have ever lost something they cherished or had something valuable taken from them. Invite a few students to share these experiences.
Summarize Mormon 1:6–12 by explaining that while Mormon was in his youth, he witnessed a number of battles between the Nephites and the Lamanites. He also witnessed the spread of wickedness among all the people in the land.
Explain that because the Nephites became so wicked, they lost precious gifts from the Lord. Divide the class in half. Assign one half to read Mormon 1:13–14, 18 silently, looking for gifts that the Lord began to take away from the Nephites. Assign the other half to read Mormon 1:14, 16–17, 19, looking for reasons why the Lord took these gifts away from the Nephites. Invite students from each group to share their findings with the class.
According to Mormon 1:13–14, what happens when people rebel and turn away from the Lord? (Students may give varied responses. Consider summarizing their responses by writing the following truth on the board: When people are wicked and unbelieving, they lose spiritual gifts they have received from the Lord and are unable to receive the influence of the Holy Ghost.)
Point out that the Nephites’ rebellion was extreme. However, this principle applies to us individually when we disobey God’s commandments.
Which of the gifts listed in Mormon 1:13–14, 18 would be most difficult for you to lose?
Invite a student to read Mormon 1:15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Mormon was experiencing while many of the Nephites were losing the gifts of God and the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Why do you think Mormon was able to have spiritual experiences even though he was in the midst of great wickedness?
Mormon leads the Nephite armies and sorrows over their wickedness
Ask a student who is 15 years old (or close to age 15) to read Mormon 2:1–2 aloud. Invite the class to look for the responsibility Mormon was given when he was 15 years old (in his “sixteenth year”). Ask students to imagine what it would be like for a 15-year-old to lead an army.
In what ways might the attributes mentioned in Mormon 2:1 have helped Mormon as a leader of an army?
Summarize Mormon 2:3–9 by telling students that the Lamanites attacked the Nephite armies with such force that the Nephites were frightened and retreated. The Lamanites drove them from one place to another until the Nephites gathered in one place. Eventually, Mormon’s army withstood the Lamanites and caused them to flee.
Invite students to read Mormon 2:10–15 silently, looking for the spiritual condition of the Nephites after these battles.
Why were the Nephites sorrowing? (See Mormon 2:10–13. They sorrowed because they were unable to keep their belongings. In other words, they sorrowed only because of the consequences of their sins, not because they regretted their actions.)
According to Mormon 2:13–14, how did Mormon know that the people’s sorrow was not an indication of true repentance?
To help students see the differences between “sorrowing … unto repentance” and the “sorrowing of the damned,” write the following on the board:
Those who sorrow unto repentance …
Those who sorrow only because of the consequences of sin …
Ask students to review Mormon 2:12–15, looking for characteristics of these two groups of people. Invite them to report what they find. Their answers should reflect the following truths:
Those who sorrow unto repentance recognize the goodness of God and come unto Christ with humble hearts.
Those who sorrow only because of the consequences of sin continue to rebel against God.
Explain that Mormon used the phrase “the sorrowing of the damned” (Mormon 2:13) to describe the sorrow of those who suffer because of the consequences of their actions but are unwilling to repent. This attitude does not lead to forgiveness and peace. It leads to damnation, which means that a person is stopped in his or her progress toward eternal life.
Invite students to ponder how they respond when they realize they have sinned. Encourage them to come unto the Savior with a humble heart so they can be forgiven, experience peace, and be reconciled to God.
Mormon obtains the plates and records an account of the wickedness of his people
Summarize Mormon 2:16–18 by explaining that as battles with the Lamanites continued, Mormon found himself near a hill called Shim, where Ammaron had hidden the Nephite records. He removed the plates of Nephi and began to record what he had observed among the people since the time he was a child.
Invite a student to read Mormon 2:18–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Mormon’s description of the spiritual conditions of the people in his day. Also ask them to look for his personal expression of hope.
How did Mormon describe the spiritual conditions in his day? (“A continual scene of wickedness and abominations.”)
From what you have learned about Mormon, why do you think he could be confident that he would “be lifted up at the last day”? (You may want to help students understand that when Mormon spoke of being “lifted up at the last day,” he referred to being resurrected and brought into the presence of God to remain with Him forever.)
How is Mormon’s example of righteousness helpful to you? (Students may share many different responses. Their responses should express the following principle: We can choose to live righteously, even in a wicked society. You may want to invite a student to write this truth on the board.)
When have you seen friends or family members stand firm in obeying God’s will even when those around them did not?
Encourage students to think of a specific area of their lives in which they can do more to stand for what is right. Invite them to write in notebooks or scripture study journals about how they would like to respond the next time they are challenged in that specific area. Testify that, like Mormon, we can choose to live righteously and that the Lord will help us stand firmly for what is right, even when others around us do not.
Commentary and Background Information
Mormon 1:1. “I, Mormon”
The following list highlights aspects of Mormon’s life and ministry:
His father was named Mormon (see Mormon 1:5).
He was named after the land of Mormon, where Alma established the Church (see 3 Nephi 5:12).
He named a son Moroni (see Mormon 6:6).
He was a pure descendant of Lehi (see 3 Nephi 5:20).
He was visited by the Savior (see Mormon 1:15).
He was a commander of Nephite armies (see Mormon 2:1).
He wrote according to God’s will (see 3 Nephi 5:14).
Mormon 2:13–15. Sorrowing unto repentance
Mormon mourned for his people, seeing that “their sorrowing was not unto repentance” and knowing that “the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin” (Mormon 2:13). As President Spencer W. Kimball observed, “Without repentance there can be no forgiveness, and without forgiveness all the blessings of eternity hang in jeopardy” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 117).
Elder Bruce D. Porter of the Seventy taught of the importance of feeling sorrow unto repentance:
“A broken heart and a contrite spirit mean to experience ‘godly sorrow [that] worketh repentance’ (2 Corinthians 7:10). This comes when our desire to be cleansed from sin is so consuming that our hearts ache with sorrow and we yearn to feel at peace with our Father in Heaven. Those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit are willing to do anything and everything that God asks of them, without resistance or resentment. We cease doing things our way and learn to do them God’s way instead. In such a condition of submissiveness, the Atonement can take effect and true repentance can occur. The penitent will then experience the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost, which will fill them with peace of conscience and the joy of reconciliation with God” (“A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 32).
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